1 Thessalonians 1:2-3
“We always give thanks to God for all of you…constantly keeping in mind your work of faith and labor of love and perseverance of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.”
The Apostle Paul commends the Thessalonians not just for what they are doing (work of faith) but why they are doing it (labor of love). This is important because motive matters. Jesus often took the Pharisees to task not just for their actions but for their motives (Example: Mt. 23:5 “They [Pharisees] do all their deeds to be noticed by other people”).
Jesus said that love for God and neighbor should be the driving force behind all we do (Mt. 23:40 “Upon these two commandments hang the whole Law and the Prophets”). But people are prone to drift. Doing our duty, seeking reward, or fear of punishment can easily replace love as the real “why” behind our actions.
One of the starkest warnings in scripture about motive is, “If I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing” (1Cor. 13:3 ESV). Willingly being burned alive is the biggest, “all in” I can think of, but without love as the motive, the Bible says it doesn’t count.
Because motive matters, it is a good habit to ask ourselves and each other “why” we are doing what we do.